can nursing schools mandate the covid vaccine
can nursing schools mandate the covid vaccine
The pandemic has caused nursing schools to be unsure of what they can and cannot mandate as far as safety precautions. The biggest concern is the vaccine–can they require a student to take it?
Nursing schools are struggling with a question that has baffled many employers during the pandemic: Can they or can’t they require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Schools are trying to protect their students from exposure to coronavirus, and keep their own liabilities in check at the same time, but those goals might conflict.
On one hand, nursing schools have the legal right to impose safety rules on students because of their duty to care for patients. But on the other hand, schools fear that requiring vaccination would violate federal anti-discrimination laws and place them in jeopardy should a student sue.
Students worry about exposure as they train to become nurses — particularly after outbreaks at some nursing schools last spring resulted in dozens of cases among faculty and staff. They also are concerned about whether they will be able to find jobs after graduation if they refuse vaccination.
Nursing schools are aware that forcing a student to get the vaccine could lead to lawsuits, but there are things they can do to help encourage a safer learning environment.
Excluding students who aren’t vaccinated from attending clinicals would be a way around the whole mandate issue, but that comes with its own set of problems. You can’t really force someone to get the Covid-19 vaccine when it’s not immediately available, so if students were unable to get the vaccine for any reason, they wouldn’t be able to complete their clinical hours. That essentially prevents them from graduating and becoming licensed nurses.
Because nursing schools can’t make getting the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory, other measures have to be taken in order to keep everyone safer. Encouraging everyone on campus—students and faculty included—to wear masks and practice social distancing is one of those measures. If a student refuses to wear a mask or consistently violates social distancing guidelines, then they should probably be sent home until they’re ready to comply with those requirements.
Another thing nursing schools could do is require all incoming students who are entering degree programs that include clinical experiences at hospitals or other health care facilities know what each facility’s vaccination requirements are before agreeing to participate in those experiences. Nursing schools could also advise new students that most health care facilities will require them to receive certain vaccinations as part of working there once they graduate and become licensed nurses.
Having separate courses and labs for students who are COVID-19 vaccinated and those not vaccinated can help keep all students safe while still allowing those who do not want the vaccine to continue their education.
If you are a nursing student who has not been vaccinated and want to continue attending in-person school, it is important to be aware of how schools will be handling the COVID-19 vaccine. While some colleges require that students get vaccinated before returning for in-person learning, others have separate classes for those who have been vaccinated and those who haven’t. For example, The University of Iowa College of Nursing has established a “COVID-19 Vaccinated Cohort” for students who have opted to get vaccinated against COVID-19. While the college encourages all students to receive the vaccine, it recognizes that this is a personal choice and they are offering an option to those students who do not feel comfortable being fully vaccinated at this time. This allows them to take part in an in person program without putting themselves or their peers at risk.
Those participating in this cohort will be able to attend all classes and labs normally. However, they will not participate with students in the other cohort, which consists of any students who have received vaccinations but did not opt into the COVID-19 Vaccinated Cohort or any unvaccinated students. These cohorts must maintain social distancing measures during shared activities with other cohorts such as lectures or clinicals outside of the classroom setting.
Schools can also implement strict mask requirements and close proximity distancing rules.
In addition, schools may require students to follow CDC-recommended health strategies for containing the virus. This can include maintaining 1-2 meters (3-6 feet) of physical distance from others where possible and wearing a mask that covers the mouth and nose in public places and when around others. Students should also be encouraged to wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their face, stay home if they are sick, and avoid crowded places as much as possible.
Some schools have been able to find ways around making vaccination mandatory by giving extra credit points or clinical hours to students that have been vaccinated, which could give them an advantage over other students when applying for jobs at hospitals or clinics after graduation.
With the ongoing vaccine rollout and hope on the horizon, colleges across the country are trying to think of ways to promote a safer learning environment when students return to campus in the fall. Some schools have been able to find ways around making vaccination mandatory by giving extra credit points or clinical hours to students that have been vaccinated, which could give them an advantage over other students when applying for jobs at hospitals or clinics after graduation.
One solution is creating policies that incentivize and encourage vaccinations among nursing students. Students who receive vaccinations can be given preferential treatment in terms of clinical placement, or additional study points or clinical hours, which gives them a competitive edge over their peers.
Incentivizing vaccinations is one way for nursing schools to help create a safer learning environment for both faculty and staff as well as their students, with such incentives giving those who receive vaccines advantages in employment opportunities.
Nursing schools can create stricter guidelines in order to promote a safer learning environment during the pandemic without requiring all students to take the vaccine.
Although some nursing schools have begun to mandate that students get the vaccine, this is not a common practice. This is likely because of two reasons: first, because it may be difficult to prove whether or not someone has taken the vaccine.
Second, there are other ways for nursing schools to promote a safer environment without requiring all students to take the vaccine.
For example, some schools might give extra credit to those who do vaccinate themselves.
In addition, schools could create stricter guidelines in regards to mask-wearing and close proximity distancing while ensuring that students can still receive the same level of education. Some institutions are attempting this by offering separate labs and courses for students who are vaccinated and those who are not vaccinated. This way, people who want to be closer together can do so in a setting with less risk of spreading CO-VID 19 without having others feel unsafe around them or feel like they’re missing out on opportunities afforded only through vaccines themselves; meanwhile people who don’t vaccinate will still have access but likely at greater distance from others involved in such work